How I Guide My Children Through the World of Gaming

Sep 14, 2021
min read

Former President of Worldwide Publishing at Riot Games, Jin Oh, shares his perspective on how he manages his children’s playing time and enjoyment of video games.

As a parent who has spent most of my career in the gaming industry, I often get asked for my perspective on kids and video games. My answer always includes the disclaimer that I am not an expert and that the answer varies for each family and for each child. Nevertheless, I get pressed for my opinion and information about how we manage it in our home.

I have two young kids, and they both play video games. All their friends also play games, and when they get together online or offline, I frequently hear them talk about gaming. It’s fairly evident that video games are here to stay and will only be a more significant part of our children’s lives and our collective culture as we continue to venture into this age of technology.

As parents today, especially during a pandemic, we are concerned that our children spend too much time on their screens. We often would prefer them to study, exercise, or play outdoors. I, too, struggle with this, as I often question how to best parent my children while encouraging their love for video games and technology.

The way I see it is that video games are neither “good” nor “bad.” It is similar to TV – It is how we approach and manage them that makes them a positive or negative influence.

Like many things in life, most activities done in excess can become problematic; however, when balanced and under the guidance and supervision of parents, age-appropriate video games can be healthy.

There are benefits to playing games.

First, video games are a way to connect with other kids. This sentiment was especially true throughout the last year and a half during the pandemic when we could not see each other in person. My kids were able to stay in touch with other kids and their friends through playing games together. When they could not go to school physically or play outside with their friends, spending some time during the day talking to other kids online allowed them to connect with those in a similar situation.

Second, games teach kids not only how to socialize, but also how to collaborate. My older child loves to play games in Roblox and Minecraft, and she usually plays with her friends. As they interact, they strategize, joke around, and argue through healthy dialogue. These are life experiences that they learn and bond from and carry with them in future situations.

I am still learning how to strike the right balance, and once again, I am by no means an expert. But for those who inquire, I tell them there are two specific ways in which I try to bring balance and guidance to my children’s gaming life.

The first one is the same rule many households have implemented for decades with the TV. We try to set specific times (and limits) for our son and daughter to play. By setting time, we are establishing more explicit expectations and boundaries. Although I must admit, this is an imperfect guideline and sometimes a hard one to consistently reinforce. Our 10-year-old is good at following this guideline, but our 6-year-old is slightly harder to manage. When we were stuck at home during the pandemic, I’ll admit we were more lenient with our time limits (hey, we’re human!). It was hard to entertain the kids—and allowing them to play provided them with the entertainment, socialization, and collaboration we discussed above in a safe environment.

Second, I play with them and talk to them about games. Parents’ involvement is something I feel is an important piece of this puzzle. It is a bit easier for me because I understand games and like to play them. But this is a choice – just like choosing to go to sports practice with them or study with them. If it is something that your child loves to do, it may not be a bad idea to get yourself involved rather than restrict their playing time. Playing with my kids allows me to understand them better and allows them to feel that their dad is involved in their interests. And I promise you, your kids can teach you how to do it if you did not grow up a gamer!

We all bring different experiences and perspectives to our parenting. I vividly remember when I was young, and my dad bought my brother and me a game console and played with us. This was a memory I cherished and am passing down to my children. Many years later, I combined my passion for gaming with my career by working in the game industry. I know that I am fortunate to do what I love. I hope my children have the ability to pursue their passions as well, even if that ultimately isn’t gaming.

I don’t know if my kids will follow in my footsteps, but for now, I am trying to bring perspective and balance to their relationship with games.

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